Last Updated: May 4, 2021
Pressure-side pool cleaners are among the three most common pool cleaner designs. They’re generally the simplest and least powerful, but also generally the most budget-friendly. They connect to the outflow of the pool’s filter system, taking in water pushed by the pump. Because of this, they have a lighter touch on the pool’s system than the more powerful suction-side pool cleaners. You’ll probably want to buy a separate booster pump to make sure they have the juice to do the work.
That doesn’t mean they’re bad pool cleaners. If your needs are pretty modest or you need to shop on a budget, a pressure-side pool cleaner is a pretty good option. There’s no need to spend money you don’t have to, right?
We’d encourage you to make as informed a choice as possible in buying one. We wrote reviews of some of the models you might run across in shopping, and included a little buyers’ guide after them to give you some pointers in making the right decision.
A Summary of our Favorites in 2021
The 6 Best Pressure-Side Pool Cleaners
1. Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner – Top Pick
The Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner competes favorably with most suction-side pool cleaners in terms of scrubbing and cleaning power, and costs a little less. It also works quickly, and its two jets help circulate warmer water around to reduce cold spots in your pool.
Its 31-foot hose allows it to work anywhere in any in-ground pool. The twin jets that help keep water in the pool circulating push it around at a pretty good clip, and also help scour walls and floors of algae and grit. When it collects debris, it dumps it into a bag. That needs to be emptied, but it’s easier on your pool than having dirt get caught in the filter.
All that performance is going to cost you. It’s an expensive pool cleaner on its own and requires a booster pump. In this case, it must have a booster pump made by Polaris. One benefit of pressure-side pool cleaners is that they offer savings. With the Vac-Sweep 280, the savings aren’t so much.
2. Polaris Turbo Turtle Pool Cleaner – Best for Above Ground Pools
Pressure-side pool cleaners are great in above ground pools. These pools tend to be simple and shallow, and not very big. Their cleaners’ deficiencies are easily disguised by the nature of the job. But you still want a cleaner designed for above ground pools, and we recommend the Zodiac 6-130-00T Polaris Turbo Turtle.
It’s got a great suite of features designed for above ground use. It’s fast and will clean pools in under three hours, and has jets to blow water into hard-to-reach places so the entire pool gets clean. One thing you’ll like is the cartoon-like appearance. It’s also safe to work in most above ground pools and can climb walls well.
Its primary drawback is the price. You can get similar quality for less money.
3. Polaris Vac-Sweep 165 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner – Best Value
Our best for the money ranking goes to the Zodiac 6-120-00 Polaris Vac-Sweep 165. It might cost a bit of money, but it delivers a lot of value. It does a good job cleaning up debris, so it does what you’re paying for it to do.
It’s also easy to install and will save money in the long run by preventing the collection of debris and sand in your filter system.
There are a couple of areas of concern, however. It’s only designed for fiberglass and vinyl surfaces. If you’ve got an in-ground pool with a natural floor, you’ll need a different cleaner. It also works well in the deep end, but appears to harbor some kind of grudge against going into the shallow part of the pool.
4. Hayward TriVac 500 Pressure Cleaner
The only thing that spares the Hayward TVP500C TriVac 500 from falling even further in our rankings is that it does a pretty good job on the basic task of cleaning. It’ll pull up pebbles, dirt, algae, and bugs and deposit those into a bag for easy dumping.
Beyond that, its deficiencies start to present themselves. The primary one is the cost. It’s an expensive pool cleaner, even overlooking the fact that you need to buy a separate dedicated booster pump for it.
It also doesn’t do a very good job cleaning in tight corners. The floor of your pool will look nice, but it’ll be pretty evident where the cleaner couldn’t reach. What we really didn’t like about it was the short lifespan. For something that costs this much money, you should expect to get more than a couple years’ service out of it.
5. Pentair Kreepy Krauly Legend II Pressure Pool Cleaner
There’s a lot of promise in Pentair’s LX5000G Kreepy Krauly Legend II. It moves quickly and cleans hard. For a line of tools dogged by years of criticism that they are slow and don’t do a good job, that might be a bit of sweet, sweet music.
For what you’re asked to pay, you ought to get a whole lot more, however. The Kreepy Krauly Legend II costs what you’d expect to pay for a lower-tier robotic pool cleaner, a line of tools with a much better reputation for features and cleaning ability. Keep in mind that you’ll need to buy a booster pump on top of the cleaner itself, and those are not cheap.
In addition, there are design flaws that permit this cleaner to get clogged too easily, and it requires far too much adjustment out of the box. It costs too much for what it delivers.
6. XtremepowerUS Pressure Side Pool Cleaner
If you’re looking for the bargain basement of pressure-side pool cleaners, the XtremepowerUS is where you wind up. You should immediately take stock of where you are and get moving somewhere else.
While the price might be attractive, nothing else about this cleaner is. It’s heavy to get in and out of the water. That means it’s annoying to clean out. That’s okay, because it doesn’t do a very good job cleaning pools. Despite its weight, it usually finds itself floating around on the pool’s surface rather than cleaning one of its surfaces. That’s not actually all bad, either, because it also tends to just break for no apparent reason.
Despite the rock-bottom price, it offers terrible value. If you value your pool, you’ll look elsewhere for a pool cleaner and let this one slide right on by.
If you want to get a pressure-side pool cleaner, it’s important to know how to shop for them. Although they are typically regarded as the lowest tier of pool cleaners, that isn’t necessarily so. The right pressure-side pool cleaner could be the perfect pool cleaner for you.
We put together this buyers’ guide to help you understand what separates an adequate pressure-side pool cleaner from a great one.
One of your first considerations should be matching the size of your pool with the cleaner you use in it. Some pool cleaners work well in smaller pools but can’t hack cleaning a large space. Part of this is hose length. Be sure the cleaner you buy has enough hose to reach your entire pool. If you don’t have enough hose, the cleaner can’t get to everything. That means a failed investment right off.
Whether you have an above ground pool or an in-ground one also matters. Because they tend towards smaller sizes and lower power, pressure-side pool cleaners do well with above ground pools. But those kinds of pools have their own special challenges. Make sure the pool cleaner you buy is designed for use in the type of pool you have.
It sounds obvious to advise people not to buy a dud of a pool cleaner. It’s also a little more complicated than that. We’re not just talking about buying a pool cleaner that works. We’re talking about a pool cleaner that does a good job cleaning up the mess at the bottom of your pool. That means knowing what will get deposited into it regularly.
Pressure-side pool cleaners tend to be a bit underpowered, so they do better on fine grit than on big things like leaves and acorns. But most people tend to get the same debris consistently. If you live near a lot of pine trees, chances are you’ll get a lot of pine needles, but maybe not so many acorns. If you live near the desert, you’ll get sand, but not pine needles. Look for pool cleaners with a reputation for cleaning up the debris common to where you live.
People are attracted to pressure-side pool cleaners because they’re affordable, especially compared to the feature-heavy robotic pool cleaner. You’re going to buy a booster pump to boost your pool cleaner’s abilities, however. If you’re purchasing with budget in mind, find out what pumps a prospective pool cleaner is compatible with and factor that into the purchase price. Without the pump, the cleaner won’t work.
Disposal of trash
A big advantage to a pressure-side pool cleaner is that it will collect debris and empty it into a separate disposal bag, rather than sending it to the pool’s filter. This will reduce wear and tear on the filter and could save you a few bucks over the lifetime of your pool filter pump. You’ll want to find out what a particular pool cleaner’s disposal bag is like. Some of them make it easy to empty these out. For others, it’s much trickier.
Off the deep end
A fairly common complaint about pool cleaners that require use of a pool’s filter system to run is that they have difficulty getting into deeper water and staying there. If your pool has a deep end, make sure the cleaner you buy will work at that depth. Some pool cleaners, especially those intended for above ground pools only, have a depth limit of five feet. Others say they can operate in deeper water, but have a reputation for not going there or getting stuck when they do.
While you’re at it, consider what kinds of obstructions there are in your pool. Some pools have lots of filter caps, ladders, and other infrastructure scattered throughout. If that’s your pool, get a cleaner capable of navigating around them. The last thing you want is to have to constantly get at your pool cleaner to get it out of a tight space it got itself caught in.
Pressure-side pool cleaners can run a fairly impressive range of prices. If you opt for a pressure-side pool cleaner, be sure you’re only buying what you need. Or, figure out what added features you can afford within your budget and adjust your purchase expectations accordingly.
Based on our reviews, the Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner was our top pick for in-ground pools. It performs great and won’t wear out your pool’s filtration system, but it will cost you a lot of money and require that you buy a Polaris booster pump. For above-ground pools, we recommend the Zodiac 6-130-00T Polaris Turbo Turtle. It costs a lot of money, but works fast and can clean hard-to-reach corners. The Zodiac 6-120-00 Polaris Vac-Sweep 165 delivers the best value of the pressure-side pool cleaners we reviewed, but it avoids shallows and is only suitable for a couple of different makes of pool surface.
Hayward’s TVP500C TriVac 500 does a decent enough job cleaning the open parts of floors and walls, but can’t get into corners. It’s also expensive and has a habit of dying after only a couple of years. Pentair’s LX5000G Kreepy Krauly Legend II costs far more than the performance it delivers. It cleans well but is persnickety to get running. The XtremepowerUS Pressure Side Pool Cleaner is affordable, but it’s also junk. It doesn’t like to clean, and when it actually does that, it tends to break for no reason.
Table of Contents
- A Summary of our Favorites in 2021
- The 6 Best Pressure-Side Pool Cleaners
- 1. Polaris Vac-Sweep 280 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner – Top Pick
- 2. Polaris Turbo Turtle Pool Cleaner – Best for Above Ground Pools
- 3. Polaris Vac-Sweep 165 Pressure Side Pool Cleaner – Best Value
- 4. Hayward TriVac 500 Pressure Cleaner
- 5. Pentair Kreepy Krauly Legend II Pressure Pool Cleaner
- 6. XtremepowerUS Pressure Side Pool Cleaner
- Buyer’s Guide